National Day of Sri Lanka, or Independence Day, is celebrated on February 4 every year. The day commemorates the country’s independence from British rule after years of being under colonial dominance. Citizens of Sri Lanka patriotically celebrate their identity and culture on National Day. The day is marked by a number of events throughout the country, including parades, flag-hoisting ceremonies, dances, and performances.
History of National Day of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a pear-shaped island in the Indian Ocean, with the Palk Strait separating it from the Indian peninsula. Sri Lankan civilization goes as far back as the 6th century B.C. The country was once known as ‘Ceylon.’ It has also been referred to as ‘Taprobane’ by the Ancient Greeks and ‘Serendib’ by the Arabs, enjoying extensive economic and cultural relations with surrounding civilizations thanks to its strategic location in maritime routes. The geography of the region was exactly what made the country an important economic hub for the British Empire, which colonized Sri Lanka in 1815.
By 1948, Sri Lanka was granted a semi-independent status and became fully independent on May 22, 1972. Since then, it has been formally recognized as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Don Stephen Senanayake was the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and is widely considered the father of the nation. William Gopallawa replaced the British Empire’s appointed Governor and became the first President of Sri Lanka in 1972. National Day is also celebrated by Sri Lankan communities in other countries, including Germany, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
National Day in Sri Lanka is marked by grand displays. The capital city of Colombo is where the grand military parade is organized, followed by airshows, singing of the Jayamangala Gatha (songs of victory), ceremonial double-ended drums (magul bera), important speeches by politicians and government officials, and other ceremonies. A series of festive cultural events take place for the rest of the day, which highlights the best of Sri Lankan history, food, music, and dance.
National Day of Sri Lanka timeline
The Portuguese arrive in Colombo, piquing European interest in the region.
The Dutch force the Portuguese out and take over the Island of Ceylon, except for the Kingdom of Kandy.
The whole island unites under the British administration.
Ceylon gains full independence from the British
National Day of Sri Lanka FAQs
What is the founding date of Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, was founded sometime in 543 B.C.
What is the national food of Sri Lanka?
The national dish of Sri Lanka is rice and curry. Most meals include rice and curry.
When did Sinhala become the official language?
The Official Language Act No. 33 proclaimed Sinhala the official language in 1956. The local language replaced English, which was imposed by the former colonial masters.
National Day of Sri Lanka Activities
Attend an event
There will be no lack of entertainment in Sri Lanka on National Day! Witness the spectacular fireworks and airshows, or attend an event in your local area. Experience the best of Sri Lankan dance, music, arts and crafts, and more.
Eat Sri Lankan food
National Day is ideal for experiencing the flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine. Indulge in favorites like varai (fritters), kiribath (milk rice), hoppers (rice-flour bowls), and the irresistible variety of snacks.
Read about Sri Lankan history
Delve deep into the region’s rich history. Read all about it in books or watch a documentary.
5 Facts About Sri Lanka That Will Amaze You
Sri Lanka’s nicknames
Due to its unique shape and location, Sri Lanka is called the ‘Teardrop of India’ and the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean.’
The wildlife is incredible
Sri Lanka is home to 227 species of birds, 123 species of mammals, 178 species of reptiles, and 122 species of amphibians.
Tea is huge
Tea is big business in Sri Lanka.
Cinnamon is common
Sri Lanka is famous for its cinnamon, a major ingredient in its cuisine.
Sri Lanka had the first female head of government in the modern world, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
Why We Love National Day of Sri Lanka
Celebrating Sri Lanka
Almost every country in the world has a day that celebrates its identity. National Day celebrates the cultural, historical, and modern identity of Sri Lanka, and how it has been shaped over the years.
Learning from history and colonialism
Independence Day implies freedom. It is important to learn from history so that such takeovers and colonial rules don’t repeat themselves, and the sovereignty of nations is preserved.
A display of culture
National Day brings the best of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage. Great food, good music, dances, entertainment, art, and more. What’s not to love?
National Day of Sri Lanka dates